At 9:00 a.m. on July 3rd 1988, and at what proved to be the final days of Iran-Iraq war, American warships entered into conflict with a number of Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf.
The gunboats of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Republic that were present in the area retaliated. Meanwhile a number of American helicopters opened fire on the Army of Guardian’s boat and in response the Iranian boats fired at the helicopters, shooting one down.
Later that day the Iranian civilian Flight 655 departed Bandar Abbas Airport for Dubai at 5:10 pm with 290 people on board; 156 men, 53 women, 57 kids aging 2 to 12, and 8 babies aging 2 or less. Other than Iranians there were people from other countries on board including India, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates.
The American warship Vincennes had departed San Diego on 25 April 1988, and was in Iran’s waters for adventure.
As the Iranian airliner was climbing to 14,000 feet, the USS Vincennes headed by Captain William Rogers, fired two surface-to-air missiles at the airliner. It suddenly vanished in the radars and fire and smoke appeared on the sky. The watchtower in Bandar Abbas Airport asked about the flight from Dubai airport but they said they had no information.
Immediately after the event, American officials claimed they shot down an Iranian F-14 and later they claimed the airliner had been flying out of the assigned civilian Air Corridor and that they sent seven warning radio messages to the plane but received no answer.
Four years later new points were made in the New York Times that emphasized the American warship had been in the Iranian waters and not international waters, revealing a Pentagon cover-up of the incident.
“For no clear reason the Vincennes approached Iranian waters being equipped with advanced artillery and long-range missiles. This shows the warship had been prepared for a bad action,” Admiral William Crowe, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Reagan told the BBC.
The Iranian airliner that was an Airbus A300B2-203 was very different from F-14 considering dimensions, shape, size, and flying capabilities. Moreover the American warship could easily listen to the pilot’s conversations and understand it was a passenger flight.
Despite the claims not only the Vincennes’ warnings didn’t reach the airliner no other civil source received the warnings.
Iran expressed its complaint over the shooting down to the international community.
Iran’s View arranged an interview with Vahid Ahmadi who had then been an MP to get more information over the issue. He was also an advisor to the foreign Minister and is now a member of National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the parliament.
Mr. Ahmadi considered the shooting down of the Iranian passenger plane to be related to the conditions of Iran-Iraq war. “Iran had the upper hand at that time and Saddam was under much pressure. Therefore the US wanted to make another front against Iran and help Saddam.”
“The United States intended to distract Iran to something other than the Iraqi war front and warn Iran that America might militarily enter the war,” added Mr. Ahmadi. He called the reasons given by the Americans a “lie” and “justification” and insisted there are proofs and evidences that show it was a planned and intentional action. He called the event a black page in the history of the US that alone nullifies all their human rights claims.
He also referred to the ineffective statement issued by the UN Security Council and the verdict by The international Hague Court which only sentenced the US to pay $95 million in compensation.
“Iran is still following the case and we expect the new president to put it on his agenda until the military heads in the warship are sentenced and the US officially apologizes [to Iranians], Mr Ahmadi noted.